Research Roundup: The perfect puppy, Uber’s troubles and measuring Tempe’s drug problem

ASU research and State Press reports from the last week

This week in ASU research

Why you love your puppy

An ASU researcher has apparently figured out the exact age of a puppy’s peak cuteness. Behavioral neuroscientist and puppy appraiser Clive Wynne led a study that found dogs are most attractive to humans at around eight weeks of age. As it turns out, this age is correlated with the time at which the dog’s mother is done weaning them. In other words, dogs become most attractive to humans around the age they’d normally get kicked out of the dog house. 

The State Press has yet to hear back from Wynne on what age dogs become “good boys,” and whether this is correlated in any way with evolution or simply because dogs are the cutest smuggle-wuggles in the world. 

This week’s science and technology stories

Uber pulls self-driving car operation out of Arizona

A student walks by as a self-driving Uber drives by ASU's Tempe campus near University Drive on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. 

Uber announced last Wednesday that it would be pulling its self-driving car testing operations out of Arizona indefinitely. This comes two months after an incident in which a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian crossing Mill Ave. The incident was covered by the national press and has led to a federal investigation by the National Transportation and Safety Board. 

"Over the course of the last two months, we’ve worked closely with the NTSB," Uber released in a statement last week. "As their investigation continues, we’ve initiated our own safety review of our self-driving vehicles program. We’ve also brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture, and we look forward to sharing more on the changes we’ll make in the coming weeks."

Uber’s move to leave Arizona will cause about 300 former employees to be out of work. 

Using wastewater to measure the opioid problem in Tempe

"Opiods may be found in Tempe's wastewater." Illustration published on May 31, 2018.

Researchers at ASU are trying to study the opioid epidemic in Tempe from a new angle: wastewater. Wastewater contains traces of opioids ingested by humans that are excreted, and studying the chemical composition of this water can give researchers and the city a good idea of how widespread opioid use is in Tempe. 

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